POWER [January, 1 2013]

Cover Stories

Emerging Technologies Enable “No Regrets” Energy Strategy

Achieving a balance between affordable and sustainable electricity while improving reliability is a challenge unlike any the electricity sector has faced since its inception. Technology innovations in key areas such as energy efficiency, smart grid, renewable energy resources, hardened transmission systems, and long-term operation of the existing nuclear and fossil fleets are essential to shaping the future of electricity supplies.


Coal Battered Early, Later Rebounds

For the first time, U.S. generation from coal and natural gas was equal in 2012, although just momentarily. Gas dominated early in the year, but as gas prices rose in response to supply and demand forces, coal use rebounded. Expect more of the same give-and-take in 2013.

Distributed Generation: California’s Future

Once you synthesize all the elements of the Golden State’s clean energy strategy and extrapolate current trends, it’s easy to see that an impending break with the traditional power generation paradigm is coming, intended or not.

Grading My 2012 Industry Projections

It’s that time of year again. At the end of each year I am forced to revisit predictions I made a year ago in my “Speaking of Power” editorial and accept your kudos for my stellar soothsaying or blame shift when my guesswork falls short.

Natural Gas–Fired Plants Continue Rollercoaster Ride

The availability and low price of natural gas enticed many U.S. utilities to fuel switch on a grand scale in 2012. Increased demand has put upward pressure on prices, moving coal back to the top of the dispatch order in some regions. Expect the price momentum to shift often in 2013.

Navigant Announces Coal-Fired Generation Operational Excellence Awards

Navigant’s Operational Excellence Awards are presented annually to those North American coal-fired generation plants that have demonstrated excellence in cost-efficient reliable plant performance over the preceding five-year period. The data used to select the winners derives from Navigant’s Generation Knowledge Service fossil database.

Slow Growth Ahead—with Unexpected Flares of Activity

North American shale gas was supposed to realign the generation fleet here and abroad (thanks to anticipated exports) far into the future. Turns out, that’s not exactly how the near term is shaping up. Despite stagnant (and even putrid) economies and legislative bodies in the U.S. and EU, there promises to be sufficient market volatility to keep everyone alert.

The Electric Grid: Civilization’s Achilles Heel?

Solar flares have proven destructive effects on transmission grids, but there are many other “black swan events” that threaten modern civilization. Experts disagree about which protective steps should be taken today.

The Russian Power Revolution

Exports of natural resources have given Russia increased global political and economic clout. But domestically, the world’s fourth-largest generator of electricity has had to embark on the most ambitious reforms ever undertaken to modernize dilapidated Soviet-era power infrastructure and incentivize a massive capacity expansion to support a revived economy.

Too Dumb to Meter, Part 7

As the book title Too Dumb to Meter: Follies, Fiascoes, Dead Ends, and Duds on the U.S. Road to Atomic Energy implies, nuclear power has traveled a rough road. In this POWER exclusive, we present the 11th, 12th, and 13th chapters, “The Atomic Earth-Blaster,” “Chariot Swings Down to Alaska,” and “Sedan Side Trip to Nevada— the first three chapters of the “Eddie Teller’s Exploding Ambitions” section.



The Electric Power Industry: A Post-Election Assessment

With the passing of the 2012 election, one is reminded of the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

New Products

An Evolution in Bolt Security

Chicago-based Nord-Lock added a new dimension of safety to bolt security with the launch of the Nord-Lock X-series washer, which combines Nord-Lock’s wedge-locking protection against spontaneous bolt loosening (due to…

Battery-Powered Electromagnetic Flowmeter for Remote Sites

Endress+Hauser’s newly released Proline Promag L800 battery-powered electromagnetic flowmeter is an ideal flow measurement device for water and wastewater systems located at remote sites. The flowmeter has an integrated Global…

Explosion-Proof Carted LED Light

Larson Electronics’ Magnalight.com unveiled a wheeled, cart-mounted explosion-proof LED light with swivel mounting. Designed for versatility and easy light placement, the EPLCD-48-100LED Explosion Proof Low Profile LED Light provides the…

Handheld Laser Scanner

The NVision Handheld laser scanner is a powerful portable scanning device that is capable of capturing 3D geometry from objects of almost any size or shape. The scanner is attached…

High-Speed Precision Rotation Stage

Newport Corp. introduced the compact and high-torque RGV100HL high-speed precision rotation stage. Developed to accelerate loads having higher rotational inertia, the new stage is compatible with Newport’s XPS-DRV02 driver. The…

Rotary Peristaltic Pump

Vanton Pump and Equipment Corp.’s portable, nonmetallic Flex-I-Liner rotary peristaltic pump evacuates drums and totes containing acids, caustics, salts, chlorides, and reagent grade chemicals, without corrosion of the pump or…

Legal & Regulatory

Calif. Cap-and-Trade: Bull or Bear Market?

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently kicked off a new era in its cap-and-trade program designed to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) when it held its first GHG emissions allowance auction on November 14. While CARB pronounced the auction a success, the low price and lukewarm demand for allowances evidences market reticence to fully embrace the program.

Focus on O&M

Controlling Fugitive Combustible Coal Dust

Regardless of how much prevention is employed to mitigate combustible dust in coal-fired power plants, fugitive coal dust is pervasive and can be dangerous. In coal-fired power plants, mechanical transfer points are leading sources for airborne fugitive dust. However, because coal dust travels quickly over large areas with minimal airflow, fugitive combustible dust settles in many areas.

Safety a Main Theme at Asian Coal Users’ Meeting

Power plant operators, managers, and other professionals from across Southeast Asia met in Hong Kong in early November for the second annual Asian Sub-Bituminous Coal Users’ Group meeting, created to share information and best practices related to safety, handling, combustion, characteristics, and risk management of the fuel.

Global Monitor

Floating Solar—on Water

The recent explosive growth of massive solar plants in some of the world’s most remote deserts has stolen some of the spotlight from smaller solar installations that float on water. But in November, a concept proposed by researchers at Norwegian foundation DNV (Det Norske Veritas) for a dynamic floating offshore solar field concept stirred up myriad possibilities, particularly for congested urban regions such as coastal megacities.


About 1,199 new coal-fired facilities (as defined by the World Research Institute)—a total installed capacity of 1,401 GW—were being proposed globally as of July 2012, spread across 59 countries.

World Energy Outlook Foresees Distinct Generation Shift

Global generating capacity is poised to soar by more than 72%, to 9,340 GW, by 2035 from 5,429 GW in 2011, despite retirement of about 1,980 GW, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts in its World Energy Outlook 2012, released in November.

Speaking of Power

My Top 10 Predictions for 2013

Looking back over the past year’s predictions, I graded myself a “strong B,” slightly down from the past two years (a detailed discussion of my individual scores is available as an online supplement to this issue). Like coal, I’m expecting a comeback in 2013.

GBR Reports